Tutorial – 23/10/2013

The first half of this week’s tutorial was taken up with the hand in process – it was great to see some fantastic work produced by the other students, much of which looked very professional.

In the second half, we started looking at building websites for the first time.

I have a couple of years’ experience of coding directly in HTML and CSS, so I had previously thought that I wouldn’t be learning too much while the basics were being taught – though I was still looking forward to having some disciplined training from scratch to ensure that I am using Dreamweaver to its fullest capabilities.

However, I quickly came to realise that I too would be learning from scratch, as we were introduced not to raw HTML and CSS coding, but to the world of Dreamweaver templates which I have never looked at before.

At this stage, my comfort zone is definitely with coding straight into the code editor, so I’m going to have to discipline myself to learn to use the templates.  I’d be interested to find out to what degree professional designers utilize the template method over the raw code method – if it is common practice to cut down on the amount of time spent creating the framework of a site then it will definitely be worth getting to grips with this facility.

 Learning points this week:

·         A page must only contain one H1 tag – or search engines will consider it trying to obtain unfair SEO.  I will definitely need to go back to some of the websites I have created in the past couple of years and amend them to adhere to this.  I was aware that the ‘H tag’ hierarchy was important in terms of SEO, but wasn’t aware that it was bad practice to have more than one H1.

·         All of the files that make up a website should be given meaningful names to optimize SEO (for example “Sussex Artist Exhibitions” rather than just “Exhibitions”.  Again, there’s definitely some correction work for me to do on my previously created sites.  I plan to investigate whether there is a way that groups of files can be given a  block prefix or suffix narrative – similar to the option available on Infranview. If there is, I need to consider that all of the links within the pages will also need to be updated.

·         Always start a new project with New Site and open files through the site navigation – don’t just use Open (which is what I have always done previously).  I am hoping that the course will cover to how ‘put’ updates to the server (rather than manually import each time), and I believe that creating files within projects like this will be important for this functionality to work.

4) Linear gradient images should be saved as maximum quality jpegs.

New Project:

For the next project, I am to pick a website that I consider badly designed, then design and build an improved version.

So far, I have three sites in mind to choose from.

1)      The Insurance company that I work for (Lockton) has numerous micro-sites for specific areas of insurance.  On these sites, customers can view details of cover policies available, and buy cover via an ecommerce section.  An example can be seen at www.locktonaffinity.co.uk/freeflying I believe the sites are created in-house from the head office in London, and I’ve always felt that there has been very little consideration that has gone into their design.  They are very basic in appearance – reminiscent of many sites from the 1990’s, early 2000’s so I feel would benefit from a spruce up.  I would consider the target audience, and look to make the site responsive.

2)      The Victorian Web (http://www.victorianweb.org/) has a wealth of fascinating and in depth content, but very little consideration to design.  In the intro to their site they proudly claim to have been running since before the World Wide Web was introduced, and it looks as though they have had very few updates in terms of design since!  There is a great deal of potential to create a site of Victorian ambience with improved visual impact / guidance.

3)      U3A (University of the Third Age) is an organisation whose aims are the education and stimulation of retired members of the community.  The site for their Swindon wing is very basic, which seems a real shame because it contains a lot of useful and very current information regarding activities that I would imagine it’s members refer to frequently.  It could definitely be made far more engaging,

Useful Resource:(for inspirational sites grouped by category / colour etc):